The students have spoken, and the Dialektos foreign language program will continue for another semester.
Dialektos is a program that allows students to learn a language usually not taught through the university’s core curriculum. The program, still in its infant stages, offers four languages: Arabic, Japanese, Russian and Mandarin Chinese.
The program began as an idea three years ago when Dr. Harland Rall, assistant professor of foreign languages and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages, went to Drake University and interviewed faculty about their program. After his trip, Rall said he thought the student body strongly desired to learn some foreign languages not being taught. Rall worked with the ACU administration to develop the Dialektos program, which gives the students a larger variety of foreign language opportunities.
“The goal of the program is to approach languages or language instruction from a nontraditional way,” Rall said.
ACU partners with Drake University for some of its courses. Mandarin Chinese and Russian are offered as a pilot program online through Drake University. Coursework is assigned through an online software program Drake University has established. The courses offered in the spring will be a part of this pilot program.
In addition to coursework, students meet with a native speaker. They have sessions with the native speaker three times a week; in each session, the student has to complete certain speaking objectives. The instructor then evaluates them on their oral skills and gives the students a grade.
Senior Eryn Halstead, in her first semester of Japanese, loves how strongly conversation is emphasized in the program.
“I love the fact that we spend so much time talking to each other; it is different than other language classes,” Halstead said. “Learning a foreign language through real conversation is a more natural way to learn how to speak Japanese.”
The program directors are looking to offer more languages in the future, but a certain level of interest has to be shown for a language to be considered. The program currently has 28 students, and about 10 students need to show interest in another language for the program to add it, said Paul Roggendorff, instructor of foreign language and assistant coordinator for Dialektos.
Roggendorff said the main problem facing the program so far has been finding conversation instructors who speak the native language. Dialektos coordinators could not find anyone on campus who spoke Arabic, so they had to get an instructor from the Abilene community.
“We feel that the program is a great fit for ACU because it is innovative, and because it prepares students for leadership and service throughout the world,” Roggendorff said.
Students can apply to take Mandarin Chinese or Russian courses for the spring semester until Oct. 16. Applications can be found online or picked up in Room 134 in the Administration Building.